Information on Plantain

Latin NamePlantago lanceolataphoto
Other NamesCommon plantain
Part UsedLeaf, seed
Herb FormsBulk herb for teas, capsules.
AffectsDigestive system, Urinary system, Integumentary system
CautionsNone noted.
Botanical InfoA common weed with long, ribbed, lance-shaped leaves, flowering spikes with a brown dense tuft of flowers, and later abundant small, flea-like seeds wrapped in a brown husk.
DescriptionPlantain is a ubiquitous weed that every herbalist appreciates. It contains a high percentage of mucilage, which gives it its soothing properties; allantoin, to speed wound healing; and aucubin, a strong antimicrobial substance, to help prevent infections. In Europe it is used to treat hay fever and respiratory congestion; it is well-suited for children. Plantain soothes inflamed and irritated tissues of the respiratory, urinary, and digestive tracts. The tea can be taken freely for coughs, irritable bowel, colitis, cystitis, and painful urination. When used fresh, it is the best herb to chew up and stick on a sting, bite, burn, or wound. It always seems to take the sting or pain out, speed the healing process, and prevent infection. The herb can counteract severe staph infections when applied fresh with echinacea tincture. Plantain leaf blended with a little water to make a paste can be spread into a small piece of gauze or cheesecloth, rolled into a small cylinder and inserted into the mouth on a herpes sore, ulcer of the gums, inflamed gums, or abscess. Other plantain species are the source of psyllium seed, and the small seeds from P. lanceolata and P. major can be used similarly. Soak 1/2 teaspoon in a little warm water and drink in the morning as a soothing bowel cleanser and regulator.
Large-leaved plantain, P. major, can be substituted.

Plantain has a taste of BLAND, BITTER and a temperature of COOL.


Infusion1-2 cups 2-3 x daily
Capsules2-3 capsules 2-3 x daily

Ailments Treated by Plantain

AilmentTreatment SupportApplication
Abrasionsdemulcentfreshly blended or chewed fresh leaf, dried leaf powder, blended with water and applied externally
Abscesssoothing antimicrobialapply reconstituted leaf powder as a poultice
Bee stingsanti-inflammatory, soothingfresh leaf externally
Breasts, soresoothingfresh leaf compress externally
Cornssoothing, wound healingfresh leaf externally
Cuts, minorcell proliferantfresh leaf externally
Dermatitissoothing anti-inflammatorysalve or poultice externally
Frostbitevulnerary, demulcentfresh leaf externally
Ichthyosisskin cell proliferantfresh leaf or salve externally
Inflammationanti-inflammatory, demulcent1 cup decoction, 3-4 times daily; 3-5 capsules, 3-5 times daily
Insect bitesanti-inflammatory, immune modulatorcream, poultice
Periodontal diseaseanti-infection, antimicrobialfresh leaf poultice
Splintersantimicrobialsalve or fresh leaf externally
Tendonitiscell proliferanttincture, tea
Vaginal drynesssoothingsalve externally
Bladder infectiondemulcent, antibacterialtea, capsules
Colitisdemulcent, antiinflammatorytea, capsules


Newall, C. et al.. 1996. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press.
McGuffin, M. et al. 1997. Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Madaus, G. 1976. Lehrbuch der Biologischen Heilmittel. Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag.